Nothing Is Impossible: Further Problems of Dr. Sam Hawthorne

Edward D. Hoch, Author
Edward D. Hoch. Crippen & Landru, $19 trade paper (238p) ISBN 978-1936363032
Reviewed on: 07/21/2014
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Hoch's third collection of impossible short mystery stories (after 2006's More Things Impossible) is another showcase of the author's ingenuity. Throughout the 15 stories, spanning Dr. Sam's career as smalltown doctor and amateur sleuth in New England from 1932 to 1936, Hoch plants clues fairly, although few readers will be able to anticipate the solutions. The situations include a neat variation on the Golden Age locked-room—a shooting in a sealed crying room in a movie theatre intended for parents with young children—as well as the baffling disappearance of a teenager who bikes around a corner before simply vanishing. The entries are all excellent, much more than just two-minute mysteries by virtue of the subtle yet significant changes in Dr. Sam's life from story to story. Perhaps the highlights are "The Problem of the Invisible Acrobat" and "The Problem of the Thunder Room." In the first, Dr. Sam is initially baffled when an acrobat appears to make himself invisible and a clown is murdered; in the second, a prospective new assistant is traumatized by thunder and has a vision of a man bludgeoned to death by a hammer, just as such a killing happens miles away. (Apr.)
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